It was the second week of November 2010. Keith was heading into day-surgery to have his port placement. I needed something other than my earbuds and music, so I quickly made my way to the gift shop while he was being prepped.
I found what I was looking for. It felt strange to look for hope in an object outside of faith. But there is was – FAITH & HOPE! I think I needed to do something with my hands, something to hold … there was no thought of thumbing through magazines… Who could concentrate on words?
There I sat, my world crumbling, listening to the words of “Nights in Rodanthe” sung by Emmylou Harris. My mind could not stop going to a bad place. It was just under two weeks of finding out he had cancer and three days after the diagnosis:peritoneal carcinomatosis – mucinous adenocarcinoma of appendiceal origin.
I was lost, sitting in an open room with others waiting for their loved ones, all by myself in every sense of the word. The procedure was simple and would not take long to place in his chest. But there was a waiting period afterward and then he was sent off to x-ray to make sure the port was placed where it needed to be, and that’s when the general surgeon came out to tell me he did well with the placement. I had been in my own little world and must have looked and sounded as if I had just heard the news my husband succumbed to the disease. I looked up when I heard, “Mrs. Surges” and that was it. I lost it. I sobbed, right then and there. This procedure was nothing compared to what Keith would endure in the future. The surgeon looked at me as I was trying to catch my breath and apologize for my emotions, “This is scary, serious stuff – I know.” From that day forward, I never apologized for my emotions (unless I couldn’t get the words out, more an apology for the delay … you know I’ve spoken before about the sobbing snot-cry … not pretty).
I so needed to find a way to put my game-face on for Keith. I did, and would do again, anything for that man. Chemo was going to begin in two days. Our lives forever changed by the word cancer, our hearts full of love for each other and the thought of how scary and serious this “stuff” was, brought out a fearlessness like I had never known. I could do whatever it took to the save my husband. In the end, I have no doubt he was saved from the cancer and the unfairness of it all.
I’m not the same person I was in November 2010 – I am a better person. I have always been a kind person and have always been a caregiver. I don’t hold on to metal pieces anymore. I still listen to Nights in Rodanthe and cry. It’s a musical score in a movie by the same name about love and loss and how to pick up the pieces in the face of tragedy I am living my life as Keith would have me live it; without fanfare, without guilt and without feeling the need to say I’m sorry for my emotions. I think I use my emotions productively. I hold onto the beautiful memories I had with Keith secure in the knowledge that I truly did help save him.
The world just had Rare Disease Day on February 29th. It is sad that Keith didn’t get to lend his own voice but I believe my voice is a combination of both.